Why Kiwibank is closing some branches and opening others

Kiwibank has responded to criticism of its latest branch closures, saying it's opening more than it's shutting down.

Branches in Petone, Stoke and Johnsonville - all in the Wellington region - have been earmarked for closure, the state-owned bank said on Wednesday.

Local MPs from both Labour and National have said they'll fight the decision. Labour's Greg O'Connor said it "doesn't make sense", and National's Chris Bishop agreed.

"Kiwibank likes to talk about how it's different to Australian banks and really, it's being just like them," he told Stuff.

"Today we'll also be opening in five new places, so it's a real balancing act," Kiwibank CEO Steve Jurkovich told The AM Show on Thursday.

"Today's a pretty good example - Kiwibank's in over 230 places around New Zealand, so for the fifth-biggest bank in New Zealand, you know, I think we've got our fair share of community presence."

Kiwibank is opening new branches in Thames, Whitiangi, Waihi, Matamata, Cambridge and Lower Hutt.

"More than 90-odd percent of people are doing things on the phone or on their PC. But if you're a person that does like to go down and have a chat - we understand there is an impact," said Mr Jurkovich.

"But the other places we're opening, those communities, those MPs and others, will feel good about the investment they're getting."

Steve Jurkovich.
Steve Jurkovich. Photo credit: The AM Show

Mr Jurkovich foreshadowed the closures in August, when he told Newshub Nation there are "less people coming in. The growth of digital transactions is exponential."

When Kiwibank first began 17 years ago, it was "married at the hip to NZ Post" and able to open in hundreds of location almost overnight. Since then, NZ Post has struggled with dramatically falling postal volumes, and Mr Jurkovich said it no longer makes sense to have Kiwibanks in the exact same locations as post offices.

"It's really, really clear when people come to the branch, they want to sit down and have a financial services conversation with us. That doesn't probably you know, be best suited sometimes to where people are sending parcels and their mail."

He said affected staff are being offered jobs in the new locations, but might otherwise want to find a new career or retire.

"If we don't evolve we won't be relevant, so we won't be around to help New Zealanders."

Mr Jurkovich has only been in charge of Kiwibank since the end of July.

Newshub.

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